Dust off your dirndl because Oktoberfest Zinzinnati is back this weekend.
As America’s largest Oktoberfest celebration, the event has been honoring the region’s German heritage with food, fun and plenty of beer since 1976. And from Sept. 16-18, hundreds of thousands of people will descend on Second and Third streets downtown to get their gemütlichkeit on. (Last year saw 700,000 attendees, according to the website.)
Favorite big events are — including the beloved Running of the returning Wieners — with some novel attractions. Event producer the Cincinnati USA Regional Chamber says 30% of this year’s food vendors are new, and in addition to highlighting German entertainment, this year’s music lineup has been co-curated in partnership with Radio Artifact.
Ready to gorge on some metts and sauerkraut? Here’s everything you need to know about Oktoberfest Zinzinnati.
Hours and Location
Oktoberfest takes place:
- 11am-11pm Sept. 16
- 11am-11pm Sept. 17
- 11am-9pm Sept. 18
The fest is held on Second and Third streets downtown between Elm and Walnut. Admission is free.
All events take place at the Turfway Park Main Stage at Second and Elm streets, except the World Brat Eating Championship, which takes place at the Braxton Stage at Third and Walnut streets.
- Running of the Wieners: Noon Sept. 16 — Dachshunds dressed in hot dog costumes will race 75 feet to a finish line in heats of 10. Winners of each bout will compete in a final race to crown the city’s fastest wiener.
- The Gemütlichkeit Games: 2 pm Sept. 16 — Gemütlichkeit is the German word for good cheer, and these games pit members of the media against each other in a series of friendly competitions. There will be a beer barrel roll and a beer stein carry, in which participants must carry six 1-liter Samuel Adams beers across a finish line (Sam Adams is the event presenter).
- Oktoberfest Zinzinnati Offizielle Zeremonien: Noon Sept. 17 — These ceremonies feature local German groups and Sam Adams co-founder Jim Koch. There will be a procession to each festival tent and the biergarten to officially dedicate them for Oktoberfest.
- Samuel Adams Stein Hoist Championship: 2 pm Sept. 17 — Locals can participate in this contest of strength as they hold a 1-liter stein filled with beer straight in front of them. No spilling. No bending of the elbows. There will be one male-identifying and female-identifying winner. Registration is available at oktoberfestzinzinnati.com.
- Oktoberfest Best Dressed Contest: 4 pm Sept. 17 — Awards will be given for the most authentic and creative German costumes.
- The World’s Largest Chicken Dance: 5:30 pm Sept. 17 — Cincinnati set the world record for the largest chicken dance at Oktoberfest Zinzinnati in 1994 and this event has been a fest favorite ever since.
- The World Brat Eating Championship: Noon Sept. 18 — This brat-eating contest features competitive eaters from across country. The goal? Eat as many brats as possible in eight minutes. World famous eater Joey Chestnut won last year’s event, but is not returning to defend his title.
Expect tons of local restaurants offering up what event producers refer to as “German-style twists on their menu items.”
There will be expected favorites — roasted almonds, metts, brats, sauerkraut ball, limburger cheese sandwiches, giant pretzels and plenty of strudel — plus some unique dishes. See a full food menu at oktoberfestzinzinnati.com, but here are some highlights.
- Goetta Bier Cheese Slammer from Beckhart German American Cuisine
- Bratwurst Burrito from Buzzed Bull Creamery
- Hühnernudelsuppe Mit Chinesischer Wurst (chicken noodle soup with sausage) from Deme Kitchen
- Jerk Chicken Spätzle from Gee’s Caribbean Style
- Grilled Goetta Donut Sandwich from Goetta Sweets
- Pickle on a Stick from Izzy’s
- Brat N Beer Mac & Cheese from MamaBear’s Mac
- Goetta Balls from Mick Noll’s Covington Haus
- Spaetzle with a Parmesan Limburger Cheese Cream Sauce from Pompilio’s
- Linzer Cookie Cheesecake Cupcake from The Cheesecakery
The weekend’s entertainment blends German-style bands with local favorites. There are multiple stages:
- Turfway Park Main Stage and Bier Garten (Second and Elm streets)
- Zinzinnati Bier Garten (Third and Race streets)
- Urban Artifact Fest Tent (Race Street between Second and Third)
- Spaten Fest Tent on Rosa Park (Between Second Street and Freedom Way)
- Radeberger Fest Tent (Vine Street between Second and Third streets)
- Weihenstephan Bier Garten in Freedom Plaza (Second Street and Rosa Parks)
- Sam Adams Bier Garten (Second and Walnut streets)
- Braxton Fass Bar (Third and Walnut streets)
Each has live entertainment scheduled throughout the weekend. There are more than 30 acts slated to appear, including The Royal Klobasneks, Vereins Musikanten with Kolping Sängerchor, the Pete Wagner Schnapps Band, the Polka Warriors and more.
Other acts, some scheduled in partnership with Radio Artifact, include Jess Lamb & The Factory, Siri Imani Productions, Doghouse, Kyle Hackett, DV8, Mel Bryant & The Mercy Makers + The Prickly Pair, Cincy Brass and more.
Find the full entertainment schedule at oktoberfestzinzinnati.com.
Second and Third streets between Elm and Walnut will be closed for the festival. The City of Cincinnati has not yet released other street closure information, but this blog will be updated when they do.
For more information about Oktoberfest Zinzinnati, visit oktoberfestzinzinnati.com.
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